Patriots' coach Pete Carroll said Johnson underwent a magnetic resonance imaging examination in Wellesley, Mass., on Sunday morning, and the test confirmed damage to the tendon connected to the biceps muscle near his left elbow.
"It's very similar to what he did last year, and it will require surgery," Carroll said, referring to Johnson's right biceps injury at Pittsburgh last Dec. 6.
Carroll said that he expects Johnson to be out of action for at least four months. He said he would wait until after surgery to determine if Johnson would be placed on injured reserve, which would shelve the linebacker for the entire 1999 season.
The fifth-year linebacker from Colorado was hurt Saturday as he tried to reach for rookie running back Kevin Faulk during the second quarter of the scrimmage.
The circumstances were similar to the injury Johnson incurred as he was trying to bring down the Steelers' Jerome Bettis, hyperextending his right arm in the process.
"We lose a guy of great impact to our club," Carroll said. "It's a tragedy for Ted because he put so much into it, and has been such a diligent worker for so long. It's a crusher to him."
The Patriots' options at middle linebacker are limited. Marty Moore, the last selection in the 1994 NFL Draft and a special-teams standout, was Johnson's backup, with second-year veteran Ron Merkerson in reserve.
However, Carroll intends to groom this year's first-round draft pick, Andy Katzenmoyer of Ohio State, to take over the job.
Katzenmoyer, the 28th pick in the first round, had been battling veteran Ted Bruschi for a starting outside linebacker's job. Bruschi will now be a starter there and make the defensive calls, Carroll said.
"That's the way we'll turn our sights until we know more, and fortunately, we have a guy of that stature to take over that spot," he said.
Katzenmoyer, an inside linebacker at Ohio State, said he was prepared to do whatever was needed to help the Patriots' defense replace a player who was the team's leading tackler in two of his four seasons.
"Losing Ted hurts us tremendously," Katzenmoyer said after Saturday's scrimmage. "Someone has to step up and take over for him while he's gone. His being hurt is going to slow down the defense and put a hitch in s."
Carroll said Katzenmoyer's "crash course" would begin immediately. The Patriots open the preseason Friday night at Foxboro, Mass., against the Washington Redskins.
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